Spirituality: Key to Future Interreligious Relations

Written by Leo D. Lefebure
February 13, 2015

by Dr. Leo D. Lefebure

Interreligious relationships challenge us to expand our horizons, to learn new perspectives, and to see ourselves and our world in a different light.  Jesus made clear that relationships with others lie are central to the spiritual path, emphasizing to a Jewish scribe in the gospel of Mark the importance of the traditional command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31; Lev 19:18).[1]

The original context in the book of Leviticus relates this command to not seeking vengeance or bearing grudges: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev 19:18).  A few verses later, the book of Leviticus expands this command to include aliens who reside among the Israelites: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:34).  Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) makes clear that our obligation to love our neighbor includes those from a different religious or ethnic background.  If our neighbor practices a different religious tradition than our own, the command to love our neighbor calls us to get to know our neighbor’s religious tradition and to respect it to the degree that we are able.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.  The New Oxford Annotated Bible, ed. Michael D. Coogan et al.  (3rd ed. Augmented; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

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